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South TX Raptor Notes – April 2016

Alex Lamoreaux|

From savannas, to subtropical forests, to desert scrub there is no better springtime paradise for hawkwatchers than southern Texas. Huge numbers of migrant raptors slip northward along the coastline, taking the shortest possible route around the Gulf of Mexico, and 11 different species call the southern portion of the state their year-round home. There are even a few species that can …

Winging their Way to a Forest Near You

Cameron Rutt|

Amazingly, we’re already well into the second half of April, which probably means a lot more to the rest of you North American birders than it does to me right about now… See, I’ve been stationed here in Manaus, Brazil, for most of the past year, which means that there is vanishingly little seasonal turnover in the mature Amazon rainforest. (If …

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Gambel’s White-crowned Sparrows in PA

Alex Lamoreaux|

After having a great opportunity to study an adult Gambel’s White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys gambelii) at Arlene Koch’s property last weekend near Easton, while also enjoying the immature Harris’s Sparrow there, I was interested to learn more about this western subspecies’ history in Pennsylvania and the mid-Atlantic. Gambel’s White-crowneds are essentially the western-Canadian counterpart of our more familiar Eastern birds …

Coastal waterbird notes from southern Belize, Fall 2014

Alex Lamoreaux|

We are spoiled in the United States with many concentrated birding efforts taking place throughout fall and spring migration such as hawkwatches, seawatches, Big Sits, and other surveys which all help to pull in loads of data on bird numbers and distribution, but there are very few endeavors taking place in countries like Belize. Thanks to the Belize Raptor Research Institute, there …

American White Pelican – Prime Hook NWR, Delaware

Alex Lamoreaux|

During a DOS Local Patch field trip led by Tim Schreckengost on October 18th, local birder Julie McCall alerted our attention to an American White Pelican that she found foraging and resting among Laughing Gulls in the marsh near the Prime Hook NWR headquarters. The pelican has since been seen almost daily, mostly from Fowler Beach Rd and typically resting …

‘Puget Sound’ White-crowned Sparrows

Alex Lamoreaux|

Many species of sparrows vary considerably in appearance and vocalizations across their ranges in North America. In particular Dark-eyed Juncos, Song Sparrows, Fox Sparrows, and White-crowned Sparrows show the most distinct populations. The White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys), one of our largest and classiest-looking sparrow, can be separated into five subspecies: Eastern (Z. l. leucophrys), Gambel’s (Z. l. gambelii), Mountain (Z. l. …

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Piping Plovers – Beyond Cute

Jordan Rutter|

Many birders are familiar with this small migratory shorebird and some know of its endangered status. Not to mention the fact that they’re adorable. But there’s a lot more about Piping Plovers (PIPL) than their good looks. There are two subspecies in three distinct populations of Piping Plovers. The Atlantic coast has its own subspecies (Charadrius melodus melodus) while the internal …

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Willow Ptarmigan – 1st for New York!

Alex Lamoreaux|

Today myself and 8 fellow PA birders embarked on a weekend-long PSO field trip to the southern Lake Ontario shoreline, however our plans took a very unexpected turn when I noticed a forwarded email. It was from Drew, saying that there was a Willow Ptarmigan on Point Peninsula in Jefferson County reported by Eugene Nichols. Obviously we were all quite skeptical of …

Pink-footed Geese – Centre County, PA

Alex Lamoreaux|

This past Friday morning, Matt Sabatine discovered not one, but two Pink-footed Geese mixed with a large flock of Canadas at Bald Eagle SP in Centre County, PA. This is the first record of Pink-footed Goose for central PA, the first time more than one has been found at once, and the western-most record for North America! The geese came …

Winter Red-necked Grebe – Centre County, PA

Alex Lamoreaux|

This afternoon I found this adult Red-necked Grebe at the Axemann Rd pond in Centre County. This is only the 2nd January record for the county, and the location is very odd (small, shallow pond along a road). Red-necked Grebes are rare migrants in central Pennsylvania. Typically only single birds or small groups are seen on stormy days during fall …